Iran: Coronavirus kills 63 more, death toll climbs to 354

Iran has one of the world’s worst death tolls outside of China from coronavirus. (AFP)
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Updated 11 March 2020

Iran: Coronavirus kills 63 more, death toll climbs to 354

  • For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms
  • For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness

TEHRAN: Iran says the new coronavirus has killed 63 more people, raising the death toll to 354 amid over 9,000 cases in the Islamic Republic.
That’s according to a Health Ministry spokesman who spoke in a live, televised news conference on Wednesday.

The Islamic Republic’s senior vice president and two other Cabinet members have the new coronavirus, Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency reported on Wednesday. 
The report by Fars, believed to be close to Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, comes amid days of speculation about the health of Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri.
Jahangiri has not been seen in pictures of recent top level meetings.
Fars says the others sick are Ali Asghar Mounesan, minister of cultural heritage, handcrafts and tourism, and Reza Rahmani, minister of industry, mines and business.
Across the Mideast, more than 9,000 people have contracted the virus and the COVID-19 illness it causes. The majority come from hard-hit Iran, which has one of the world’s worst death tolls outside of China, the source of the outbreak.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.
Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard says at least five of its members and an unspecified number of the Guard’s volunteer Basij force.
Iran’s supreme leader had said Tuesday that the Islamic Republic will recognize doctors and nurses who die combating the new coronavirus as “martyrs” like slain soldiers.
The decision by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei comes amid a propaganda campaign already trying to link the fight against the virus to Iran’s long, bloody 1980s war with Iraq. The rising casualty figures each day in Iran suggest the fight against the new coronavirus is far from over.
That the Guard is involved in the relief effort of a major catastrophe is not surprising in Iran. The Guard, whose forces include an estimated 125,000-plus troops and 600,000 mission-ready volunteers, routinely respond to the earthquakes that shake the country. Recent floods saw its troops mobilize as well.
Its forces, which include virologists, faced chemical weapons during Iran’s eight-year war against Iraq.


Israel launches new spy satellite

Updated 06 July 2020

Israel launches new spy satellite

JERUSALEM: Israel launched a new reconnaissance satellite early Monday, the defense ministry said, its latest asset to be deployed against arch-enemy Iran.
“The Israel Ministry of Defense and Israel Aerospace Industries have successfully launched the ‘Ofek 16’ reconnaissance satellite” at 4:00 am local time (0100 GMT), the ministry said in a statement.
The “electro-optical reconnaissance satellite with advanced capabilities... will undergo a series of tests,” it added.
Minister of Defense and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz hailed the development.
“The successful launch of the ‘Ofek 16’ satellite overnight is yet another extraordinary achievement” for Israel’s defense sector, he said.
“Technological superiority and intelligence capabilities are essential to the security of the State of Israel... We will continue to strengthen and maintain Israel’s capabilities on every front, in every place.”
Neither statement gave further details on the satellite’s mission, but Israeli public radio said it would be used to monitor Iran’s nuclear activities.
Israel has long sworn to prevent its nemesis from obtaining atomic weapons.
The Islamic republic denies its nuclear program has any military dimension.